Margalit Ruth Gyllenhaal, better known as Maggie Gyllenhaal, is an American actress best known for her roles in the films Donnie Darko (2001), Secretary (2002) and The Dark Knight (2008), as well as the television series The Honorable Woman (2014) and The Deuce (2017). 

She was born in New York City to film director Stephen Gyllenhaal and writer-producer Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal.

Gyllenhaal is of Swedish, English, Russian and Polish ancestry. She was raised Jewish, although she never attended Hebrew school. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal is her younger brother.

Gyllenhaal was raised in Los Angeles and graduated high school in 1995. She then moved to New York to enroll in Columbia University, and there she majored in Eastern religions and English literature. She also took acting courses for one summer at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).


Gyllenhaal (born November 16, 1977, Maggie Gyllenhaal age: 40) landed her first-ever feature film role when she was 14 in the 1992 mystery drama film Waterland, which was directed by her father. She collaborated with her father and her brother on two more films: A Dangerous Woman (1993) and Homegrown (1998).

She then had secondary roles in the movies Cecil B. Demented (2000) and Riding in Cars with Boys (2001). Gyllenhaal then portrayed the sister of her real-life brother Jake — her only sibling — in the 2001 independent cult science fiction film Donnie Darko. 

Gyllenhaal rose to fame after her performance in the 2002 romantic comedy-drama Secretary opposite James Spader. She played the secretary of the eccentric lawyer portrayed by Spader in the film, which dealt with a couple engaging in a BDSM relationship. Gyllenhaal was praised by critics for her performance, and earned her first Golden Globe (Best Actress in a Comedy) and Independent Spirit Award nominations for the role.

Gyllenhaal then played secondary characters in the films Adaptation (2002) — which co-starred Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper  Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), and Mona Lisa Smile (2003). The latter also featured an all-star cast including Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst and Julia Stiles. 


In 2009, Gyllenhaal sat down with uInterview for an exclusive interview about her film Away We Go, a comedy-drama starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph about a couple traveling while expecting a baby. Gyllenhaal played Krasinski’s crazy professor friend.

Fans submitted questions to Gyllenhaal. On working with Krasinski and Rudolph, she recalled a funny moment on set:

“John and Maya were doing kind of bits and comedy all the way through, when we were shooting, when we weren’t. I was laughing kind of all the time. I loved it,” she said. “I worked for like four days on it, so there were so many moments that we kind of funny and great about it because it was all packed into such a tiny period of time. I think, the first day I worked I had not worked in a long time; I had just been mothering. And I was actually kinda dying to go to work. I really missed it. And I went to work and all of a sudden I was shooting that very first scene where I’m nursing my child, an 11-month-old.”

Gyllenhaal also said she had an eccentric upbringing, but not as much as that of her children in the film.

“My parents were pretty bohemian, but not quite in that way,” she explained. “I would say when I was pregnant, my fantasy of being a mother was that everything would be absolutely organic, that I would have cloth diapers and hand wash them myself, and I would sort of talk to my daughter about her feelings — well, which I do do that; I do talk to her about her feelings. But, you know, all these kind of fantasies that you have of what it will be like were kind of more in the [the character] LN direction. And I still do kind of lean in that direction, but, I mean she is as far on that spectrum as you can possibly be. I definitely have a stroller. I live in New York. You know, she’s nursing her 4-year-old, you know, and I’m not that far over.”


Gyllenhaal then played the lead role of a recovering heroin addict in the 2006 drama Sherrybaby, which earned her a second Golden Globe nomination (this time for Drama). That year, she also starred in Paris, je t’aime, (“Paris, I love you”) a French anthology that features several short films made to pay homage to the city. She also played supporting roles in two more 2006 films: World Trade Center, a drama based on the September 11 attacks in New York, and the fantasy comedy-drama Stranger than Fiction opposite Will Ferrell. 

In 2008, Gyllenhaal starred opposite Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart and Heath Ledger in the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman film The Dark Knight, a sequel to 2005’s Batman Begins. She played Rachel Dawes, Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend, Gotham assistant district attorney and girlfriend of Harvey Dent, played by Eckhart. Katie Holmes had played Dawes in Batman Begins. 

Gyllenhaal then starred as a divorced journalist in the musical drama Crazy Heart (2009) opposite Jeff Bridges. She earned rave reviews for her performance and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, her first and only Oscar nod.

In 2010, she starred opposite Emma Thompson and Dame Maggie Smith in the fantasy film Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, a sequel to the 2005 children’s fantasy flick Nanny McPhee. Gyllenhaal’s character in the film was English.

Gyllenhaal then starred in the 2011 British period romantic film Hysteria and the 2012 inspired-by-actual-events drama Won’t Back Down alongside Viola Davis. 

She then played a Secret Service agent in the 2013 political thriller film White House Down, and had a main role in the 2014 dark comedy Frank, which co-starred Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson. 

Gyllenhaal has also starred in several television series. After appearances in several low-profile made-for-TV films, she starred in the BBC political thriller miniseries The Honourable Woman in 2014. In the series, she played an Israeli-British businesswoman who inherits a family company For her performance in this, she won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Miniseries.

Since September 2017, she has starred as a prostitute and aspiring pornography filmmaker in the HBO drama series The Deuce, which is set in New York in the 1970s. Gyllenhaal is also a producer of the series.


“I think ‘Secretary’s’ funny, it is about sex, and there’s a lot of sex in it, sex is the key, but you’re talking about a lot of other complicated things.”

On hesitating about role of Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight: “The truth is, what I didn’t want to be was just the sort of empty lady who gets thrown around by different guys and doesn’t have anything to do but look scared. I just wanted her to be a real person.”

On role in The Deuce: “The nudity wasn’t scary for me. The real challenge was to explore being a prostitute in relation to sex, art, money and power.”

Gyllenhaal is 5’9″ and weighs 132 pounds. She has been married to actor Peter Sarsgaard since May 2009. The two met and started dating shortly after her brother Jake, a friend of Sarsgaard’s, introduced them in 2002. The couple live in Brooklyn, New York and share two daughters, Gloria Ray and Ramona.

Gyllenhaal is involved in many political causes. She has supported the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organization the rest of her family is also staunchly in favor of. She has also advocated for Witness, a non-profit organization that combats human rights violations through the utilization of technology.

Her net worth is estimated at $15 million, according to published reports.

Her Twitter and Instagram handles are both @mgyllenhaal.

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